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Volcano hunters comb Skåne for evidence of ancient eruptions

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Volcano hunters comb Skåne for evidence of ancient eruptions
A Volcano walk comes to the Truedabacke volcano plug. Photo: Eric Kjellin
06:59 CET+01:00
When you think volcanoes, you probably think Hawaii or Sicily rather than Skåne. But Sweden's southernmost county, is littered with more than 200 basalt plugs testifying to its volcanic past.
"They are quite small. But the unusual thing about our [volcanoes] is that there are very, very many of them in a very small area," says Eric Kjellin, founder of the Skånska Vulkaner (Scanian Volcanoes) Facebook page and a self-confessed 'volcano nerd'. 
 
"There are educated geologists that say that this might be the place which has the greatest density of volcanoes anywhere in the world," Kjellin tells The Local.
 
 
Kjellin, who says he can't remember which academic he heard made that claim, has attracted more than 900 members to his Facebook group in the three years since he founded it. 
 
He now spends about ten days a month combing local forests and meadows for 'lava bombs', volcanic plugs, and other evidence of ancient eruptions. 
 
Normally, he'll be accompanied on his Volcano Tours by between one and 20 people. 
 
Kjellin estimates that there are more than 219 volcanic plugs in a 800 square-kilometre triangle marked by Hässleholm, Klippan and Höör at the points, with a special concentration around the village of Häglinge.  
 
 
Some of his favourites include Lönnebjär, Spragebjär, Ballran, Truedabacke, Göbnehall, Hästhallarna, Juskushall, Rallate and Sedebjär.
 
Skåne's volcanos are about 110 million to 190 million years old, about the same age as extinct volcanoes in Scotland, such as Ben Nevis. 
 
"It's because there are two faults that meet in the middle of Skåne, the [Teisseyre-] Tornquist Zone and the Protogine Zone," Kjellin explains. "The area is full of faults that criss-cross the ground making it brittle."
 
Not being an academic geologist, though, he admits that he is not sure if each of the plugs should be categorized as a volcano. 
 
"There are 219 different basalt plugs, and they all go down into the mantle, but if there's only one or 219 separate magma chambers I don't know," he said.  
 
During a discussion held on the Skånska Vulkaner Facebook page after our interview, Kjellin's friends questioned whether it was even right to refer to the large basalt rocks as 'plugs'. 
 
"A lot of the basalt are remnants of erosion remains from the lava flow and ash," said Emma Rehnström, a consultant geologist. "The whole of Iceland is made up of such remains, and you can't rightfully call every knob of basalt in Skåne a volcano." 
 
Nonetheless, Kjellin's mission to raise awareness of Skåne's volcanic heritage seems to be paying off, with the local Hässleholm tourist board including the volcanoes on their official site
 
"I hope so and I'm working on it," Kjellin says of his plans to make the volcanoes a tourist attraction.  "I've asked them to make a special volcanic trail but I don't know if they will." 
 
 
 
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